Saturday, January 20, 2007

Can an application have a narrative? It must.

As accessibility becomes a bigger interest of mine, it is becoming clearer to me that the issues are not in the functionality or code needed to create accessible apps. It'’s in the design of these apps. As a visual designer I must stop designing visually. I must learn to design 'narratively'.

How can I read you an interface? How do my app designs tell stories? Can I tell a great story with my design without any visual aid?

The shift lives in how we think about interface design and application concept.

Normally we think of our customers in a persona or scenario or a use case. We personify these made up customers with great ease because we have the voice of the user, by means of; feedback, interview, focus group, the list goes on. Then what is the voice of the app? Who is the app?

This is the mission. Personify the application. Breathe life into an experience in the same way that we breathe life into the users of the application. We do this by building a strong story, with beginning, middle and end. In the telling of that story, we have what I think is missing from 'accessibility design'.

We build our apps to be as visually pleasing and functionally solid as possible. We often focus so hard on this that the accessibility portion becomes afterthought. Something that must be retro fitted or hacked or rushed. I believe that by flipping the order of that we will not only have built a solid, usable, accessible app, but a visually stimulating and emotionally engaging experience.

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